A Closer Look – by Mark Miller

The Playoffs

The first week of playoffs brought us some exciting games but mostly local disappointment as only 4 of the 12 teams won their first round games. 

Before we move on, I just want to briefly follow-up on my “rant” last week about the OHSAA allowing too many teams into the playoffs (16 per region compared to 8 in recent previous years).  Week 1 winners averaged 37.95 pts/game while the losers averaged 11.21 pts/game for a difference of 26.74.  In the #1 vs. #16 seed match-ups it was winners at 41.68 pts/game and losers at 7.82 pts/game for a difference of 33.86 or almost 5 touchdowns per game.  There were a few competitive games but for the vast majority of losers, they got embarrassed. The scores support the idea this extra round of games should not be played and the “thrill of playoff football” these players and communities experienced is not positive.

On Friday morning I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate at an in-service day for Canton City School teachers held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The school administrators had planned an event where former football coaches along with the current McKinley coaches would “coach” the staff as they do their players.  We were to treat our “players” as if it were week 9 of the season so very few fundamentals were explained.  The “players” (staff) were divided into offense and defense and assigned specific positions.  After a brief chalk talk to install a few basic defenses and offensive plays, the players were to execute what they had just learned by running the defenses, runs and passes they had just heard for the first time few minutes earlier.  Of course, it was semi-organized chaos!

The ”players” were good sports though as they tried their best to do what they thought their coaches wanted them to do and seemed to have a lot of fun along the way. The whole point was for teachers to live through having information thrown at them by coaches that thoroughly knew the material but at a rate of speed and in a vernacular that made absorbing and learning the new information very difficult. After the “practice” the staff and administrators had a debrief meeting to discuss what went on, what they learned and how to use the experience in their classrooms to reach the students in a more successful way. That is always a good process but on the heels of a Covid pandemic that threw the normal education process out the window, this exercise was timely and invaluable.

Good for the administrators that came up with this idea and the teachers that participated whole-heartedly.  I have to say, teachers really care about kids and how they learn. I am married to a career teacher and even after retiring 2 years ago she still talks to her old teaching friends discussing the best way to reach kids today. Teachers care.  Teachers actually love their students. Yeah, they may enjoy some more than others but they really want every kid that walks into their classroom to learn and be successful. And how about the McKinley coaches that spent the day helping their fellow teachers and then going out and beating Solon that night to advance in the state football playoffs!  Great job guys!

Why am I talking about teachers and students in a sports story?  Duh, coaches are teachers and players are students. Enough said!